The Kings who played for the Queen
Listening to books on tape was the only thing that kept Chris Daniels sane while touring Europe in a bus with 10 other guys.
“We would stay up late and party a little hardy. It was like the great Hunter S. Thompson described the press plane that followed the president,” Daniels said. “But if you’ve got books on tape, you’re fine.”
Chris Daniels & The Kings have toured Europe more than 14 times and have performed across the U.S. for the past 22 years. The seven-piece horn band plays a mix of R&B, funk, “jump blues” and rock ‘n’ roll.
Besides keeping his head straight, the books on tape had a greater impact on Daniels. Many of the books were about the history of music, and they inspired him to get his master’s in history. Now he teaches the history of jazz at Arapahoe Community College near Denver while not on tour.
“I learned so much about other performers who I love and respect and who were always my idols,” Daniels said. ” I like learning about how they were able to survive the good times and the bad. Wow, I sound like a history teacher.”
Daniel’s own musical history began when he started playing guitar professionally at age 17.
“I was in a band in the original hippie jam-band era when it was not considered weird to live in a school bus and doughnut truck,” Daniels said. “It was a whole other world, where my name was ‘Spoons’ and we wrote songs about elves and druids.”
Daniels formed his current band in 1984. The band’s adventures in music have led to comparisons including “Metallica with horns,” “Memphis soul-like Stax-Volt” and “jump blues,” which takes the rhythm of swing in a more aggressive light. Think Brian Setzer, Keb Mo and Little Feat with horns.
Chris Daniels & The Kings have gotten lots of airplay on radio stations in The Netherlands.
“Big Al, who was the No. 1 deejay on the rock station, loved Tower of Power,” Daniels said. “When our record came out in 1990, he loved it because it sounded like Tower of Power. He played the heck out of it.”
Chris Daniels & The Kings have had a couple No. 1 hits in The Netherlands and got the opportunity to perform for the Queen of Holland in 1995.
“She flew in on a helicopter, and we were the band playing,” Daniels said. “It was the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, and we played the whole weekend of the celebration. We were playing in the town of Sidart, where the Germans surrendered to the Americans in Holland.”
The band also has performed live on Dutch radio stations. The Netherlands is Daniel’s favorite country to visit because the Dutch know and love their music, he said.
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It seems like the best celestial events too often happen in the wee hours of the morning, in the cold dead of winter.